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Sky Bet Championship Midweek Preview

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Kieran Trippier

Kieran Trippier

On Tuesday night, the Lancashire Derby takes centre-stage, but Burnley and Bolton need three points for more reasons than simply local pride. Down south, Brighton and Leeds’ play-off chances will be tested in a clash at the AMEX, and a bit further west there’s a key relegation clash. Yeovil, currently six points off safety, have what you’d think will be a must win game against Millwall, who languish just outside the drop zone. Here’s our preview of the action.

Brighton vs. Leeds

Both teams saw their play-off ambitions restored after a narrow win. Brighton saw off Doncaster late on thanks to a goal from Leandro Ulloa, his first since Boxing Day. But they are still frustratingly inconsistent. If you look at their last nine league games, it reads: won three, drawn three, lost three. Four of their next five opponents are, like themselves, just a few points off the play-offs. That starts with Leeds United. The Whites ground out a 2-1 win at Yeovil, in blustery conditions at Huish Park, and the result keeps them just five points off Reading, with a game in hand. You might have thought Ross McCormack would struggle as the lone striker, without target man Matt Smith playing in front of him. However, four goals from his last two games suggests it has not been a problem, and a player of his quality could help Leeds pick up a result down at the AMEX. 1-1.

Huddersfield vs. Nottm Forest

Unlike the aforementioned Bolton, Huddersfield are looking strong at home, having won half of their matches at the John Smith’s stadium. Thanks to Adam Clayton’s late strike, they picked up a win against Wigan, which ends sequence of four straight defeats. Nottingham Forest dropped two points at Blackpool, in a match where they scored with their only shot on target. Having been 1-0 up for most of the second half, they let their lead drop after a lapse in concentration when defending deep at the end. Billy Davies’s main problem is that his side find it difficult to see wins out. In five of their eight away draws this season, and on three occasions since the turn of the year, they had the lead in the second half but still dropped points. With Huddersfield’s decent attacking options, that is could be a problem. 1-1.

Sheff Wed vs. Wigan

Wigan have games in hand, but given they have only won twice on the road, forthcoming away trips to Brighton, Forest, Ipswich and QPR will not give Rosler too much confidence of rebuilding momentum. Neither will a game against Sheffield Wednesday, who stretched their run to eleven games unbeaten in all forms with a great win at Reading. Their position of seventeenth in the table, bears no accuracy on the threat they will pose to their Greater Manchester visitors. Benik Afobe looks capable of replacing Connor Wickham, albeit providing pace rather than Wickham’s type hold up play – the Arsenal loanee scored, and won the penalty for Chris Maguire. Wednesday’s momentum, or Wigan’s proven quality? A draw is the best bet. 1-1.

Watford vs. Birmingham

In twenty-four games this season under Zola, Watford had four clean sheets. In eleven games under Sannino, they have already kept five. It does not take a genius to guess what the new manager’s priorities are. Watford looked well organized in their draw at Leicester. Ahead for most of a match away to league leaders, inevitably they were going to have little of the ball, yet they still reduced the Foxes to just three shots on target. Birmingham put in a similar performance at Charlton, and came away with a fifth away victory since mid-November. A midfield trio of Lee, Huws and Adeyami worked hard to deny space for their opponents going forward. Federico Macheda’s brace means he has now scored three times for Birmingham in one hundred and twenty minutes of game time. Macheda could give Blues a much-needed cutting edge in front of goal, but Watford have only conceded once at home since Sannino took over, and they may keep another clean sheet. 1-0.

Yeovil vs. Millwall

Yeovil’s 2-1 defeat to Leeds on Saturday perhaps summed up their season. They put their opponents under a lot of pressure towards the end of the first half, missed a penalty, and ultimately did not have the experience and leadership to hold onto the win. Goalkeeper Marek Stech may be partly at fault for the goals, but in both cases the defence were ball-watching, and showed no intention to block the ball or close down. This is a vital game for the Glovers, against a Millwall side who let in three or more goals in a game for the twelfth time this season, when they lost 3-1 at Burnley. On the other hand, from four games against fellow bottom five teams, they have only conceded once. That goal came actually against Yeovil at home, on the opening day of the season. The Lions’ defence should be prepared for this relegation clash, while midfielder Ed Upson returns to his old stomping ground. 0-1.

Bolton vs. Burnley

When these teams played each other on the opening day, you would have expected them to be in opposite positions this season, yet Burnley are competing for promotion while Bolton are flirting with a second relegation in three seasons. Burnley won 3-1 against Millwall on Saturday, thanks partly to two goals from Danny Ings, but credit must go to right-back Kieran Trippier. He picked up another two assists to earn himself the man of the match award, and is arguably one of the most underrated players this season. The Clarets have a tough run of fixtures coming up, with three away trips in the next four weeks, and their only home games will be against Forest and Derby. Bolton threw away a two goal lead at home to Bournemouth last time out, and they have still only won twice at home this season. 1-2.


ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Sky Bet Championship Midweek Preview

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